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Increase public awareness of bio-based products and applications supporting the growth of the European bioeconomy

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BIOWAYS (Increase public awareness of bio-based products and applications supporting the growth of the European bioeconomy)

Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2018-09-30

The European bioeconomy is key to helping society meet the environmental challenges it faces today. By utilising renewable resources from agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture and converting them into food, feed, fibre, bio-based products and bio-energy, dependence on fossil-based products and processes can be reduced. This in turn will transform manufacturing processes, reduce greenhouse emissions and lead to new jobs and industries with less environmental impact.
To maximise the impact the bioeconomy has in this regard, however, it is essential that consumers are aware of the benefits bio-based products and their applications deliver and have confidence in them. Raising this awareness and increasing confidence requires a comprehensive communication programme aimed at the general public and one based on science-based facts and figures. This communication also needs to include well-formulated, understandable and accessible key messages, which outline the capabilities and benefits of bio-based products.
In this context, BIOWAYS provided the materials and activities designed to stimulate public engagement with the bioeconomy and excite citizens about its potential. It also provided a platform for involved stakeholders to share ideas and collaborate in their efforts to promote the use of the bio-based products and develop new products and processes that bring them to market. This involved researchers, industry, policy makers and the general public.
In order to achieve this aim, the project set out to analyse the current position of the bio-sector, assess its potential and identify industry and research champions to help increase its visibility. It also aimed to develop methods for ensuring there is ongoing communication on the value of bio-based products amongst all stakeholders.
Another important aspect of the project was to foster an ongoing dialogue between the project itself and the other bio-based initiatives in Horizon 2020. This enabled EU-funded research in this sector to benefit from the tried-and-tested communications methodologies developed and enhanced by the project and so enhance public awareness of their work and so the bioeconomy as a whole.
BIOWAYS also developed educational materials on the benefits of the bioeconomy, while helping to ensure that the BBI JU programme, which co-funds the research effort, as a whole is implemented effectively.
Following these objectives, BIOWAYS aimed to:
- Increase awareness amongst Europe’s general public, students, scientists, media and policy makers of the value of bio-based products and applications to industry, the economy and society as a whole, both in terms of what they deliver now and in terms of their future potential.
- Promote collaboration of research effort with complementary projects and researchers.
- Increase the opportunities for further funding into more research or seed investment for commercial roll-outs.
- Increase awareness of a particular challenge or opportunity, thus promoting further scientific research.
- Inspire young scientists to become involved in bio-based scientific research.
- Increase female interest toward science
- Encourage contacts and exchanges among researchers and the bio-based industry. As a result of the project’s recommendations, the European bio-based industry could benefit from new demand-led scientific discoveries creating new markets and increasing competitiveness.
- The European Bioeconomy Network (EuBioNet, http://eubionet.eu/) was set up as a proactive alliance of EU funded projects dealing with Bioeconomy promotion, communication and support. The main goal is to maximise the efforts, increasing the knowledge sharing, networking, mutual learning, coordination of joint activities and events. Currently, 24 projects have joined. (BIOWAYS partner FVA is the main contact of the EuBioNet).
- Productive collaboration with more than 220 projects, organisations and initiatives has been established to exchange knowledge and experiences, co-organise events, share communication channels, etc.
- Analysis was made of the current market situation and future trends of bio-based products (BBPs) and their applications in Europe based on the review of more than 100 information sources and 41 qualitative interviews.
- Public opinion about bio-based products from the end-customer’s perspective was analysed following desk-top research, an EU-wide online survey and interaction during project events.
- A wide variety of training material has been developed, including:
- 4 online serious games (2 ‘action’ and 2 ‘quiz’ like) targeting students at all grades and their educators, adults, experts in bioeconomy, policy makers and the citizens at large. The games were developed in close collaboration with similar projects (e.g. STARProBio and BioSTEP).Three games are available in 7 languages.
- 1 promotional video about bio-based product (available with subtitles in 7 languages) and 14 60sec educational videos to explain the latest research in the development of bio-based products
- Several educational multimedia presentations
- 57 application Fact Sheets about the most up-to-date research in all different fields of the bioeconomy
- 8 Biobased products Factsheets about bio-based products
- 30 events were organised were organised within the context of large international exhibitions or events as well as in ‘unconventional’ spaces (e.g. science festivals, regional markets, etc.) in 8 counties, where the partners interacted and informed more than 5.000 European citizens (school students, university students, families, business representatives, policy makers, researchers, etc)
- 8 training seminars have been held in Czech Republic, Italy and Spain and have been attended by over 280 participants among high school and University students
- A set of actions (recommendations) and good practices that could be taken for future dissemination and communication initiatives at both European to increase public awareness and confidence and support the growth of European bioeconomy have been developed.
- The BioW@tch platform has been developed and currently more than 25 projects joined
- An online library has been created with more than 120 documents relating to the bioeconomy, which are searchable via a variety of search parameters
Following a productive and successful 2-year project implementation, the knowledge created and networks established are expected to be further exploited. More specifically:
- The training material (“training toolkit”) is publicly available through the project’s web portal and can be freely used by anyone.
- The European Bioeconomy Network currently consists of 24 projects (and the number is constantly increasing) who expressed their interest to join forces and collaborate to support the growth of the European bioeconomy.
- During the events the partners organised (30 events in total) or participated in (more than 40), they informed more than 5.000 European citizens about bio-products and their potential applications in every day life by providing them with evidence-based facts and allowing them to ‘touch and feel’ a wire variety of products (demonstration activities).
- More than 200 research teams and companies had the opportunity to interact with European citizens (children and teenagers but also families and students), demonstrating their work and results.